Doodad Kind of Town


"Sex and the City": The Buildup to Friday
May 28, 2008, 11:46 pm
Filed under: Sex and the City

It’s been another rough week here in IT land. More overtime, more conference calls, more deadline pressures.

One thing is getting me through… I’ve scheduled this Friday off work, and I’m going to see “Sex and the City: The Movie.”

My pal, Jen (who writes the fun and fabulous blog Monkey Posh) and I are heading to a matinee, then to the nearest dispenser of tasty Cosmopolitans to dish the movie and the fashions.

For some moviegoers, this summer is about Iron Man, Batman and Indiana Jones. My summer superheroes are Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha.

Hey, I’m a 40-something, fashion-magazine-reading woman. Deal with it!

In honor of my upcoming afternoon of escapist cinematic fun, I’ve decided to honor my top five all-time favorite episodes of “Sex and the City.” (Not a unique idea, since msnbc.com did the same recently. But I came up with a completely different list).

5. “A Vogue Idea”:
Carrie lands a writing gig at the venerable fashion bible, Vogue Magazine. This episode marks the debut of recurring character, Enid – an icy, hypercritical Vogue editor played with suitable snap by Candice Bergen. Ron Rifkin guests as the fellow Vogue editor who takes pity on Carrie, gets her drunk on martinis at 10 in the morning, and later tries to seduce her inside the Vogue accessories closet.

But the plot doesn’t enter into it. For me, it’s that moment when Carrie holds aloft a pair of shoes with look of teary-eyed wonder and whispers in awe: “Manolo Blahnik patent leather Mary Janes… I thought these were an urban shoe legend!” I’m a shoe lover from way back (I was collecting cute shoes when SJP was still a Square Peg), and I have coveted this particular pair ever since. I have even bid on gently used pairs of these Manolos on Ebay – unsuccessfully to date, but I keep trying. In terms of footwear, they are my holy grail.

4. “The Post It Always Sticks Twice”:

About the aftermath of a bad breakup and how Carrie bounces back. Berger (Ron Livingstone) disappeared at the end of the previous episode, leaving just a Post It on Carrie’s computer screen: “I’m sorry. I can’t. Don’t hate me.” Anyone who’s ever been dumped in a similarly shitty way can relate to Carrie’s determination that “today cannot be the day that Berger broke up with me on a post-it note.” So she and her friends decide to obliterate the bad memory with a night on the town. By the end of the episode, it’s become (in Carrie’s words) “The day I got arrested for smokin’ a doobie!”) What happens in between? Charlotte celebrates her new engagement, Miranda finds she can finally fit back into her ‘skinny’ jeans, and Samantha gets chased out of a bar by some ‘bridge and tunnel’ girls after she comes on to one of their boyfriends. It’s all very silly, but it’s also a lot of fun.

3. “The Real Me”:
Carrie gets her chance to be a runway model in a fashion show featuring both models and non-model NYC celebrities. She’s all excited and full of herself until she arrives at the show to find: 1) her Dolce and Gabbana gown has been swapped out for a teeny-tiny pair of jeweled panties – and nothing else; 2) the other ‘real New Yorkers’ on the runway include such glamour-pusses as Ed Koch and Frank Rich; and 3) she’s given an enormous, furiously backcombed ‘do and way too much makeup.

The perfect marriage of Carrie’s fashion mania with Sarah Jessica Parker’s gift for physical comedy: Carrie struts onto the runway and immediately takes a spectacular spill off her 6-inch stilettos. As Heidi Klum briskly steps over Carrie’s sprawled body, Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson) utters that immortal SATC line “Oh my God! She’s fashion roadkill!” Great, fun guest shots by Margaret Cho as the foulmouthed fashion show coordinator (her deadpan reaction to Carrie’s fall: “Fuck… me… hard”) and Alan Cummings as the fussy D&G assistant known only as “O” (his signature line “Me likey!”) The late makeup artist Kevin Aucoin also appears as himself backstage.

2. “I Love A Charade”:

It was the final episode of Season 5, neatly wrapping up some plot lines while leaving a few tantalizing suggestions of things to come.

Nathan Lane guests as lounge singer Bobby Fine (“the gayest gay man in New York”) who, to everyone’s surprise, is engaged and madly in love with society hostess Bitsy Von Muffling. Our four heroines head to the Hamptons for the wedding. Charlotte brings new lover, Harry, although she’s embarrassed by his crudeness and his very hairy back. Samantha hosts a party at the home of her former lover, Richard Wright; when some of Richard’s younger, hotter bedmates crash the party, Samantha ends up hurling melons at them (and breaking a window in the process.) Miranda succumbs to an afternoon roll in the hay with Steve, with regrets initially. But as the Hamptons weekend wears on, she begins to think more fondly of him. And Carrie is unexpectedly reunited with Jack Berger, now single and available.

Lane is a hoot as you’d expect, but he also displays tender and genuine affection towards his bride-to-be. And this leads Carrie and friends to ponder the mysteries of love and companionship and whether you can get by without the “zha zha zhou -that great, butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling when you don’t just love ’em but you’ve gotta have ’em.” At the episode’s end, everyone’s dancing. Harry and Charlotte admit they’re falling for each other, but as he tells Charlotte, “I’m Jewish, I have to marry a Jew.” (Charlotte’s retort: “That gay guy can marry a woman, and you can’t marry an Episcopalian?!”). Carrie and Berger, together at last, take a first step towards a relationship (SJP in a billowing, tentlike strapless number is undisguisably pregnant here; the season ended not a moment too soon.) And the camera pulls away from the dance floor to capture a final image of a butterfly on a lilac branch, fluttering its wings to the distant strains of the orchestra.

1. “Splat!”:The perfect episode and a truly great 30 minutes of television.

Alexandr (Mikhail Baryshnikov) has asked Carrie to come to Paris with him to live while he opens a new exhibit there. As longtime viewers know, this is a very significant invitation; when Big went to Paris for work four years before, he issued no such invitation to Carrie. But while she is thrilled with Alexandr’s offer, Carrie finds it isn’t an easy decision to go. For one, her friends seem more concerned for her than happy, possibly underscoring her own unspoken doubts about leaving a city, a job and a life that have come to comprise her very identity. And as she ponders, all the bleakest possible warning signs about growing old alone in New York manifest themselves before her. Enid, her persnickety editor at Vogue, sheepishly asks Carrie to fix her up with a party date, then makes a play for Alexandr with Carrie looking on in astonishment. ” Musing about the shortage of available partners for a 50ish woman, Enid tells Carrie “It’s a small pool. It’s a very small pool – it’s a wading pool! So, why are you in my pool?”

Carrie has no time to answer. One of her old buddies, overaged party girl Lexi Featherston (Kristen Johnson) has returned from coking up in the ladies’ room and needs a place to smoke. It’s snowing outside, so she cracks open a window, tells off the fellow partygoers, proclaims she’s “so bored I could die” and then catches her Manolo on the ledge, trips and plunges 18 stories to her death.

What follows are the quietest (and, strangely enough, loveliest) moments in the series’ history: a montage of hushed, snowy, exterior shots culminating with Carrie’s announcement to Alexandr, “I’m coming to Paris.” It’s a decision motivated by fear, of course; Carrie has glimpsed a future in New York with only two options – lonely desperation or tragic death. As she tells her friends in the funeral scene that follows, “Ladies, after a certain age, when you’re single in New York, there’s only one to place to go and that’s down.”

“Eighteen stories down to be exact,” quips Miranda.

She isn’t fooled, she knows Carrie is making a mistake. The ensuing scene between Parker and Cynthia Nixon as they walk away from the funeral still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, even after untold repeat viewings. Their escalating argument feels real and immediate, and Miranda’s admission that she doesn’t like Alexandr is ours as well. We’ve all seen that he’s a smug, arrogant prick. And yet… he’s pretty dashing and handsome and romantic,too. In the final shot, he’s whisking Carrie through a snow-blanketed Central Park in a horse-drawn sleigh, a romantic image if there ever was one.

In time, we learned that Paris wasn’t magical, Alexandr wasn’t good for Carrie, and that “our girl” belonged in New York with her friends and Mr. Big. But at the end of this episode, anything seemed possible.

(photos from hbo.com)

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5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Hip Hip Hip and Hooray!!!Friday is on!I have a feeling Carrie, Miranda, Chalotte, and Samantha will be my heros this summer too. On some level they have always been a sort of hero to me–or at the very least an inspiration.My fave episode is the one where Carrie says to Big..”Your girl is lovely Hubble”.My second favorite is the one where Big is moving to CA and Carrie says something like-if you are tired “You take a Napa you don’t move to Napa.”I also love the one where Brady turns one and Charlotte has the miscarriage. I just wrote about these 2 epsiodes on my friend Fabulista’s blog yesterday.I will do my best to find cosmos in a bottle small enough to fit into my purse. HA!I do not think I will be able to stomach Iron Man or Hitchcock or any of those other crappy “boy” movies.See you manana!

Comment by Parisjasmal

“… those crappy boy movies” HA!All those episodes you mentioned are good, too. I’ll see you and your new Christian Louboutins tomorrow morning. Bring the Cosmos!

Comment by Pat

You know, I hate to burst you all’s bubble, I’m a 50-something hetero guy and I always loved “Sex and the City.” Smart writing is, after all, smart writing.I don’t quite get the spin all the reviewers and bloggers, etc., are putting on it that only women or gay men will be interested in this flick.Viva Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and that other, red-headed one (oh yes … Miranda).

Comment by Rick Olson

Rick – You haven’t burst my bubble -instead you’ve just made my day!In truth, I don’t know many straight guys who appreciate the smart writing and fine acting on SATC. My old boyfriends have let me know they were just tolerating – if not out-and-out suffereing through – the reruns I would occassionally insist on watching. So thank for chiming in.

Comment by Pat

Rick -Sorry about my language – it is indeed much saltier than usual and I attribute that to the lingering effects of the vodka when I was writing. :)Yeah, they had extra time, but they didn’t use it well. Both Miranda’s and Carrie’s stories could have been written much tighter; they both spent a huge chunk of the movie not speaking to their significant others when I was just dying for them to hash our their differences. On the big screen, the “filler” of fashion shows and shopping and such felt so much emptier than it did on television.

Comment by Pat




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